The Fourth of July weekend was coming up and the nursery school teacher took the opportunity to tell her class about patriotism.
“We live in a great country,” she said. “One of the things we should be happy about is that, in this country, we are all free.”
One little boy came walking up to her from the back of the room. He stood with his hands on his hips and said, “I’m not free. I’m four.”
This week has been full of activities celebrating our country’s liberty. I love the Fourth of July.
As I grew up, I lived in an area where the Revolutionary War was fought. During the Battle of Trenton, George Washington headquartered in the same building that I worked in as a cook. It was a colonial mansion turned restaurant.
Some of the farm fields I hunted in had once been bivouac areas for the Colonial Army.
The first factory in our town was built to make cannonballs for the Colonials.
Needless to say, it helped make the novels I read come alive. My childhood was filled with reading historical novels. I could see the battles in my imagination and would picture the scenes in my mind.
I have visited Independence Hall, touched the Liberty Bell hiked at Washington’s crossing. It helped make it real.
This is the time of the year when we stop and thank God for our country’s freedom, when we remember that freedom is not free; it costs.
Many suffered and sacrificed for the freedom they secured. It was worth it for us. I am not sure it was for the families who buried their loved ones.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists; 11 were merchants; nine were farmers and large plantation owners men of means, well educated.
They signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Ellery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, and Middleton.
At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British Gen. Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged Gen. George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more.
Standing tall, straight and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
In similar fashion our personal freedom was secured by Christ at the cross. Our freedom cost the life of Christ. It cost God.
We are the recipients of that battle. We are the ones who are blessed. Jesus Christ secured our liberty. He fought our fight. We are the beneficiaries of his efforts. That is why they call it grace.
History is filled with stories of heroic efforts. What Jesus did was far more then heroism. What Jesus did was to take our place.
He bore our guilt; he took our shame. He had heard the tribunal of history that condemned us to an eternity without God or heaven. He could not advocate for our innocence, since we lack the purity of innocence. Therefore he took our punishment.
He satisfied the demand of an eternal God for justice.
No, freedom is not free. It came at a high price. Jesus died to secure it.
However, since he was innocent the grave could not hold him and he lives today. He dwells in eternity, in the place called heaven.
He lives for us; he talks to God on our behalf. He is our savior, advocate, counselor, guide, teacher and friend.
Freedom is not free, but freedom is wonderful. It is good to be free.
Robert Reasner is senior pastor at Abundant Life at Mile 81.5 of the Sterling Highway in Sterling. Services are at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sundays. Contact the church at www.abundantlifealaska.org.
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